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Board sets target date on Shirley Wind ruling

After months of discussion, Brown County health officials have set a Dec. 31 target date for a ruling regarding the health impacts of a controversial wind farm south of Green Bay.

The county Board of Health voted unanimously Tuesday to make Sept. 30 the cutoff date for receiving written comments about the Shirley Wind Farm. Members the move will enable Health Director Chua Xiong to determine what the county will do to address health concerns raised by roughly 20 families living near the 5-year-old wind farm in southern Brown County.

Comments about the wind development continue to roll into the Health Department’s Green Bay offices, creating concern among some board members about when a determination could be made. Documents fill several large binders in the department’s offices, and electronic files have been received as well.

“If this keeps going, submission after submission after submission, we’ll never be able to have a decision,” Board member Richard Schadewald said.

The Board last October declared that the turbines in Glenmore and Morrison emit low-frequency noise that poses health risks. About 20 families have experienced health issues they blame on the turbines. Three families abandoned their homes, citing health problems they link to the wind farm.

Duke Energy Renewables, which operates the site, has said repeatedly that sounds produced by the turbines cannot be linked to health problems.

In the coming months, Xiong said, she plans to:

• Begin meeting with stakeholders, including the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, a local citizens’ group.

• Speak with “several well-renowned doctors” who have submitted comments about the wind development.

• Add a “masters-level public health student” to assist with the workload.

Steve Deslauriers, who lives near the wind development and regularly attends Board of Health meetings, appeared somewhat encouraged by Tuesday’s news.

“I’m just thankful,” he said, “that there’s a governmental body actually listening to us.”

The board has met several times in the past few months, usually behind closed doors for all but a few minutes of their sessions. But Tuesday’s adoption of the timetable – after about an hour behind closed doors with Corporation Counsel Juliana Ruenzel, the county’s chief legal officer – was the first action the panel has taken this summer.

“It may look like we aren’t making progress, but we are,” Board member Dr. Jay Tibbetts told Deslauriers after the meeting. “And we’re moving in the right direction.”

— dschneid@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @PGDougSchneider

Learn more

Wind turbine page from the Brown County Board of Health: http://bit.ly/1CtatJH

Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy: http://www.bccrwe.com

Duke Energy Renewables: http://www.duke-energy.com/commercial-renewables